Photos: Justin Westbrook

You may have noticed the brand new 2019 Nissan Altima has a befuddling gap between the hood, headlights and front fenders. I double checked with Nissan and, yeah, apparently it’s just supposed to look like that.

You may have seen that the new Altima features Renault-Nissan’s new variable compression engine. It’s interesting to note that the Infinti QX50, the mid-size crossover from Renault-Nissan’s premium brand, also uses that variable compression engine. You know what else the Altima and QX50 share? A really big “panel gap” between the hood, headlights and fenders.

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One might assume the gap had something to do with the new engine, since it’s now two-for-two VC-engine-with-gap from relatively separate brands. I presumed it could be something for air flow and cooling.

Nope. Well, I asked Nissan Senior Vice President of Global Design Alfonso Albaisa if the weird gap had anything to do with the engine directly, and he claimed it’s purely a design choice for both the Altima and QX50, and he hadn’t realized the coincidence of both vehicles sharing the same new engine coupled with the same design line until I brought it up.

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This is the same answer I got back a few days ago when I emailed Infiniti about the QX50. The Infiniti spokesperson claimed it was intended to accentuate the design line that runs down the side of the QX50, and Alfonso said just as much about the Altima.

So there you have it. Perhaps it’s just a brilliant design strategy that accentuates a design line, sure, but also makes alarmingly large panel gaps just seem like intentional parts of the design strategy. Genius.

Either way, I like the look of both the new Altima and the QX50, and I didn’t have any problems riding around with the new fancy variable compression engine during my time with the Infiniti.

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I guess Tesla made panel gaps chic.